Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tour South Korea: 7 Foods for Spring

Photo Credit: Flicker Open Cage Naeng Myeon
While I'm enjoying Los Angeles, with its seemingly eternal Spring, my sister is feeling chilly in South Korea. She is eagerly anticipating warmer weather in Suwon.

gochujang - red pepper paste
ddeokbokki - cylindrical rice cakes
odeng - fish cake slices
Photo Credit: Gochujang Pepper Paste

kimbab - Korean take on the California roll
tobiko - Japanese flying fish eggs
tang ja myeon - Korean interpretation of Chinese sweet and sour pork
jajjang myeon - black bean noodles
meaeun soon sal yang nyeom - fried boneless chicken with a sweet, spicy sauce

To keep warm, she is eating dishes spiced up with gochujang. This week she has eaten ddeokbokki with odeng. From what she relates, it seems that Korean culture includes many social activities that revolve around girlfriends exchanging small presents and treating each other to dining out. My sister's co-teachers introduced her to the food above.

Ddekbokki is often paired with mozzarella cheese and sweet potatoes.

Here is her review of the 6 other foods she has tried this week:

1. Kimbab can be okay or very good. The two types that she sampled, in a resturant near her Suwon apartment, were only fair. She doesn't plan to return to that cafe. However, she gave me a description of kimbab fillled with pork or orange-hued fish eggs. Since my sister is accustomed to fresh tobiko or masago in California, she was dissapointed by the fish egg kimbab. It didn't measure up.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons RobotSkirts Soba Noodles
2. Naeng myeon is a cold, refreshing Spring buckwheat noodle dish with a slighty sour soup base. Since it's still winter, where she lives, few restaurants are serving this right now.

3. As an alternative to cold buckwheat noodles, she ate the hot winter dish of tang ja myeon. She says that this was pretty good and inexpensive for under $7.  Tang ja myeon is a combination of the dish tang su yok (sweet & sourpork) + jajjang myeon (black bean noodles). My Korean Kitchen gives a tutorial on Korean Black Bean Paste Noodles if you'd like to replicate this at home.

4. Meaeun Soon Sal Yang Nyeom Chicken is a deal at $6 because my sister has seen the same sweet and spicy chicken dish for $17.

5. Dried fruit and veggies at a World Mart can be delicious. She recommends the Vietnamese brand that is carried in Korea that includes a mix of jackfruit, taro, banana and sweet potato. I suggest that you can make your own baked taro chips using Tiny Urban Kitchen's recipe. If you'd like to know the difference between jackfruit and durian, Fairchild Garden is educational.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Michaelaion Walnut Pie
6. Cherry tarts, blueberry pastries and mini walnut pies in her new town were just fair. She doesn't plan on buying them again.